June 2021

Uplifting Diverse Writers

As you probably know, the kids and I thoroughly enjoyed The Dragon Warrior when we read it recently, I couldn’t go past giving author Katie Zhao a shoutout this month since we’ve started yet another of her novels and her brilliant writing needs to be shared.

Katie Zhao is the author of the Chinese-inspired middle grade fantasy The Dragon Warrior and its sequel, The Fallen Hero. She’s also the author of the forthcoming Asian American young adult thriller How We Fall Apart and middle grade sci-fi Last Gamer Standing.

Katie grew up in Michigan, where there was little for her to do besides bury her nose in a good book or a writing journal. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a BA in English and a minor in political science; she also completed her master’s in accounting there.

In her spare time, Katie enjoys reading, singing, dancing (badly), and checking out new Instagram-worthy restaurants. She now lives in Brooklyn, New York. Find her on twitter at @ktzhaoauthor

Last Gamer Standing is on my to-read-with-the-kids list, since we’re a gaming family, and we love exploring cultures and possible future tech, this is right up our alley. Perhaps more-so mine, but the kids are excited, I promise!

Just have to wait patiently for its release in September, 2021.

Dragon Warrior‘s sequel, The Fallen Hero, will keep us busy in the meantime…

Sci-Fi Novels

Recently Read

I’ve now finished Astounding by Alec Nevala-Lee which was a fantastic read, especially for those with an interest in sci-fi and the origins of the genre in the western world. Nevala-Lee acknowledges the white-washing and male-dominated industry that the golden age of sci-fi truly was, and he also represents each of the four core authors in their human glory, not watering down any of their darker sides, but instead staying true to who they were as their personalities played vital roles in the course of the genre.

I’ve also finished The Future of Humanity by Michio Kaku which was a blast of a ride through the physics of the known universe and deeper onward into the unknown. Kaku knits together the current understanding of human potential, first contact possibilities and how we could survive the death of the universe in the distant future in seamless mini segments and well placed humour. The writing gets harder to follow through the final chapter for those less accustomed to the language of physics and string theory, however the entire novel before that is thoroughly readable and enjoyable. It opens our minds to the future with effortless positivity – though not blind – and is argued with science.

Highly recommended for anyone interested in science, fictional or otherwise.

Now Reading

The Future of the Mind by Michio Kaku, which, again, is another blast of a ride so far. So far, he’s covered the advancements of our belief about the human mind through history and how technology has changed that. Where we are right now and how that technology is already changing the lives of individuals suffering with severe epilepsy and paralysis of the body from the brain stem down.

I can’t wait to read the rest and devour his latest novel, The God Equation, soon after.

With the Kids

We’re reading The Fallen Hero by Katie Zhao, sequal to Dragon Warrior, which takes us on the next step of the journey for main character Faryn Liu. I’m excited for another dive into Chinese culture and to see how, powerfully flawed and loyal, Faryn helps her brother return to himself after experiencing a lifetime of ostracism from their own Chinese community, and stop him from destroying the known world.

The first two chapters hit hard with all the big themes from the first novel, but are riddled with the same touches of humour and pre-teen friendships that made the first such a powerhouse.

Current Project – Debut Novel – Plotting

Outlining/plotting this draft is going strong.

As you may be aware, early this year, I hand-wrote upwards of 25k of a first draft, writing towards the first ever ending I’d been able to think up ahead of time. I also focused on culture/world building as it was needed throughout the process, taking short breaks to clarify points that had me hitting a block.

I’ve always found endings to be a challenge and that was the first time I could picture one from the start of a first draft too.

However, I’ve kept all my world-building, my cultures and languages, but I’ve restarted the plot. I’m working on refining the characters, their needs, goals and decisions throughout the novel, and tightening the plot. So, when I return to writing, I won’t be discouraged by a 100,000 word draft of meandering story-lines and weak conflicts that I’ll just have to rewrite all over again.

Pants-ing hasn’t worked for me so far. How far wrong can I go with plotting?

Key to remember fellow writers and creatives: if you do follow this route, planning before drafting, ensure you keep an open mind about that plan.

Our plans need to remain malleable, and also, don’t let that plan keep you away from the work itself.

As of the end of June, I’ve written out 72 line-for-scene plot cards. My scenes average about 1300 words each, so that’ll amount to just over 93,000 words. Not including the scenes still yet to be added when I start drafting and developing the characters, settings and plot further.

I’d love to hear your advice on planning v pantsing.
We often find ourselves falling too deep one way or the other as we discover our own creative process.
What’s a crucial tip you’ve learned on this journey?

Leave your answers and thoughts below. I respond to each and every comment here on my website. Otherwise, pop over to the contact page and send me an email, I love to hear from readers and writers of all kinds.

For now, remember to:

Explore, create, repeat-

Then thrive.

Also, I’d love to honor our old boy, Kobe, who spent his last few months with us this year as we helped him lay to rest on June 5th.

We will forever remember the love he brought our little family. His attitude and intelligence, always keeping us on our toes. We will miss your cuddles, the six am wake-up myyuungs, and pillow war-dancing for breakfast, and your presence in our home.

Thank you for your endless grace and unconditional self-respect.

Rest now, baby boy. The world is yours.

© 2021 Rebecca Glaessner

If you enjoy the author’s work, please consider supporting via ko-fi.

5 thoughts on “June 2021

Add yours

  1. I started out with poetry. Flash fiction is moving along. I have too many started series (with the aid of prompts… but I’ve let them slip.) I would love to spend more time just taking what I have and reworking/wording… and (gasp) maybe editing. But there are too many other things that take up my time.

    I watched a show on Disney + (I don’t have that channel but a relative does) and your first segment reminded me of it. Raya and the Last Dragon. I really enjoyed it. Hubby thought there were some political undertones. But I think it was a feel good – good lesson movie for the whole family.

    Best memories for your feline family. When our last pet went… that was it. Now I just feed the birds.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I started with poetry once upon a time ago, used it to get my thoughts down, frustrations about the world and all, but I’ve done nothing with them either. They were a relief from teenage-hood. As for series, I’m finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with a workable novel draft, after many many half-attempts. The plot card method I mentioned above has helped immensely. Maybe that could help you? I understand that life gets in the way, I only get about 20mins of work on it a day around everything, but I’ve built up a full outline in tangible scene summaries in about 3 months. Now I can pick up a plot card and type it out, one at a time, and gradually get the whole thing written. It’s encouraging.

      As for flash fiction, I’m the same, it’s become easy to make myself brainstorm and write out a piece in under an hour a week. I don’t think I’d write much otherwise. The flash fiction is a great took to keep our writer-muscles active and to keep us connected to the community.

      I have Raya on my to-watch list, great to hear you liked it, it looks fantastic, political undertones and all. I believe it’s crucial for kids to be exposed to as much of the world as possible (within each individual’s limits) from early on, it empowers them to understand themselves and their interactions with others. As such, our three know about the origins of racism, how it impacts their friends and how they can be conscious of it. This will have to be our family movie session this week! Thanks for the reminder. They’re on school holidays right now and I forgot I wanted to watch it with them.

      And thank you for your well wishes. When we were young, we collected strays and unwanted’s, the other end of the journey is always hard to envision ahead of time and we’ve now agreed we won’t be getting any more after our others pass. I’ll be feeding just the birds before long too, but I have a feeling our kids will be stray-collectors when they’re older. I look forward to the love. Wouldn’t change it for the world.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I had more of a ‘be creative’ push when I was writing. My technical skills are a tad lacking. Shorter pieces are easier for me to edit as I go.

        I have more free time these days – but quite a bit of it is replying to new and old friends blogging comments ;)

        I have an interfaith family so our children and grands knew from the start that respect for all was important. We are a very volunteer oriented family. Which also led our children to seek professions tied to those fields.

        Our grands also get lessons in volunteering, being kind and respectful, and of course children of all ages know who and what they can get away with, depending on who they are with.

        Here, as the song goes ‘Schools out for summer’. Thankfully with some easements regarding Covid, we have been able to have family gatherings again.

        Be well and stay safe. I sent you an email. :D

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I admire that push to be creative, I’ve learned to add something creative to my days at least a few times a week. Us adults don’t grow out of our creative abilities, we just forget how to use it.

          So much time is spent interacting with the community, I feel that, but it’s so crucial to our growth. The creative community as a whole is full of an endless scope of perspectives that help to energise each other. Balance is the tricky part.

          It’s wonderful to hear you talk about your family as such a loving unit, in my experience, families aren’t often so positive and supportive of each other, generational trauma runs ripe and holds so many families back. It’s why we’re also determined to guide our children in loving each other unconditionally and to respect the greater world. To live in contrast to this is unhealthy.

          And yes! School’s out for winter here, it’s a mid year holiday break Down Under, but we use it as a quiet time to reconnect with each other and refresh our energy before returning to the grind. School is hard work for the kids, for all ages.

          You also! I’ll check my inbox 😁

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Often those families that were not supportive – those children learn to be the opposite of their childhood environment. I was one of those… While my own children did give me some different ‘challenges’ – as a unit my hubby and I made sure to keep communication open, opportunities available and love the focus.

            Liked by 1 person

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